Friday, November 27, 2009

I thought it was a bird?

I hope everyone had a great thanksgiving! The team here in Zambia went all out, and by the time we had all finished desert we all felt like we were gonna die! A few of the guys just laid on the ground hoping that would help them digest their food quicker so they could eat more..haha it was a great time though.

Well, we have had an adventurous couple weeks here in Zambia starting with the craziest ride to visit one of our church members...So, there is a young girl in our church who has been very sick, so a few of us ladies decided to go visit her and her mother. Knowing the roads into this compound were very bad, we decided to park at a local bakery and take a taxi instead. To preface this, it has begun rainy season here in Zambia, and when I say rainy season, I mean it just pours all day, leaving inches and inches of water and mud just about everywhere. With our faithful taxi driver we started on our journey into the compound, and as we got deeper, and deeper into the compound we realized that there was about a foot of water to travel through in order to get to the house; but we decided to keep on...As we were driving the water was coming up to the windows and to make it even worse there were rock boulders hidden under the water, which were just scraping the undercarriage of the taxi...our taxi driver was having a small panic attack as each rock was just tearing away at his poor car. So, after about an hour of traveling through these crazy conditions, and almost turning back about ten times, we reached our destination; which proved to be God's perfect will to encourage this precious family in the church.

So, after our visit, we did the same thing again, just laughing in the back and hoping the car wouldn't give out on us. After reaching our car, a couple of us decided to use the restroom. We got the key, walked into the bathroom and about five seconds later, we hear, "OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD RUN!" As we heard this, we turned to see poor Sophie being chased by three masive rats! So, of course in girl style we all started screaming hysterically and running as fast as our little legs could take us! But as I started running and screaming Carol didn't know what was happenning cause she didn't see the rats, so she grabbed on to my shirt as I'm trying to run out and started screaming too! Ha! It was quite a sight, and by the time we got out of the bathroom alive, a huge group of Zambians came running to us, thinking someone was trying to kill us or something! As we are all trying to catch our breath from running and screaming, we tell them, "There's three rats in the bathroom!" So, in the calmest tone, the lady who owned the bakery and bathroom, laughed at us and said, "Oh they don't bite." So, after the Zambians had a good laugh at the crazy American girls running from the rats we got in the car only to hear Sophie's take on her meeting with the rats which made the whole thing so much funnier! She explained that when she walked into the stall she saw something that looked like a bird, and then she saw the tail and thought maybe it was a snake, and then once she got a good look, the rat jumped out at her, and sent her running for her life! Ha! We had a good time laughing at that one...but that night it only got crazier!
As Carol and I are about to go to bed that night, we hear a knock at the door to find our guard explaining that he has just killed a black Mumba outside our door. He continues to explain that it is the most deadly snakes in Africa. So, he asks Carol and I if we'd like to see it, and Carol exclaims, "No way!" and of course, I say, "yea!" So, he brings the snake over on the tip of a stick and as we're looking at it, Carol says, "that snake does not look dead", and just as she says that, the snakes head starts moving around at it tries to jump of the stick! So, as we're screaming, the guard calmly but quickly takes it away and takes the head of the snake right off!! Needless to say we were both a bit shell shocked from the whole day, but all in all we just shook our heads and said, well, thank God we have been protected." :) Well, all that said, I can honestly say that all the trappings of the third world are well worth it, because of the treasures of the people here. I was soulwinning the other day, and God brought that scripture to my mind in Matthew that the kingdom of God is like a man who sells all that he has to buy a field, because there is a treasure within the field that is so precious. Also, in the same moment the Lord brought to my mind the verse that says that Christ endured the cross, despising the shame but all for the joy that was set before Him. We are that treasure in the field that Christ laid his diety down for, we are that joy that was set before Him, which He endured the pain and shame of the cross for. God is showing me that very same heart He has, is what He offers to us for others. There was no price too high that would have kept Christ from the cross to redeem the crown of His creation. We see our value in that sacrifice, and to be able to communicate that to others is the highest privilege.

The churches are really growing here, and God is leading us to people who He has prepared, which is so exciting! I love you all, and know that God is leading us in our lives, no matter what comes against that truth, we have confidence in that God who promises to lead us in this life of faith!

Isa 41:10 "Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."



Saturday, November 14, 2009

South Africa & Botswana!

Thloki and I

Wow, what a time we've had the past couple weeks! A group of us here in Zambia just recently returned from one week in South Africa and Botswana! It was such an awesome time with the body in South Africa! We arrived last Thursday in SA and had an awesome first meeting in a small Lutheran Theological Seminary about Eph 1..Praising God for His Character and Nature, Blessing Him for His Word, and Thanking Him for His Eternal Purpose. You could just see the burdens just flying off was a great way to start the conference. Then, of course, we went to have a late night rap at the local McDonalds, and to P.Chuck Heidenreich's surprise he had a little visitor in his french fries! Ha! Just as he was grabbing the next fry he noticed that it wasn't a french fry at all but it was a cockroach! So, after we got ourselves together from laughing so hard, he marched up to the counter and got us all some free (and cockroach free) french fries!

So, the next couple days we had our services in a place called "Nelmopelius" (I have a feeling that's not the right spelling), which is a government funded compound where we have one of our churches. So, without a building we held our services under a tent, but the presence of God was very powerful everytime we gathered together. Some of the messages P.Scibelli spoke were being in the hand of God, speaking of Joseph's life; Jeremiah 15:16 "I found your word and I did eat it, and it became unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart." And then the rest of the conference P.Scibelli stayed on the theme of Perfect Love. Then after our time in South Africa we took a five hour bus ride into Botswana where P.Scibelli was in "rare" form! Somehow, someone had given him a plastic trumpet which became a beating tool to poor Dion who was driving the van. haha it was great cause everytime P. Scibelli thought he was falling asleep he would blow the trumpet in his ear and loud as he could, and he would just freak out! (I guess we had to do something to keep ourselves amused:)

Anyway, the next day we went to this small village, and as we walked through the streets and talked to the people living there, you quickly saw that though they were very open to the gospel, and though some knew and agreed with what we shared, they had given up on a life that was bigger than the circumstances that surrounded them. One lady explained to me that half of the population in Botswana are HIV positive, and they have had church groups come in and out of their village but no one has stayed, and they have seen no changes in their village. After soulwinning in the morning we came again at night before the meeting to invite people to come, and by God's grace 27 people came and 12 accepted Christ as their Savior! Their is a real desire in the leadership here in Zambia to start a church there in keep that in your prayers! Talking on Grace Hour while walking the streets of Nelmopolius

P.Scibelli with the infamous trumpet
One message that was spoken during our time in South Africa was from Isa 26:3 "Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee." P.Scibelli explained that it is God who is responsible to keep us, and even the keeping of our minds on God is a work of His grace. I have been thinking a lot about that...Sometimes we find ourselves wanting to arrive a certain place in our lives, and we feel that if we could only get ourselves there, God could give us the things He has promised. We find ourselves striving to produce something that we are not able to produce. We want to trust God, be content, be free of certain things, but we find a great abyss standing between us and the things we desire for our lives. All of this has served to bring me to a place where I find that it is God's grace that carries me from the place we are, to the place He desires us to be. I was thinking about contentment a lot and God is showing me that as we are available to God's grace, that very grace is what carries us to the place of contentment, which is simply experiencing our position of being complete in Christ. So, as we find ourselves completely unable in any area, let us also see that God's grace carries us to the place of freedom and change. Praise God that we don't ever have to strive or try and produce something we cannot...we simply lay ourselves before the all sufficient grace of God and that very grace and love is what becomes the bridge and the vehicle to carry us to the other side.

I love you all and you are in my thoughts and prayers!